Really and truly there is something about September! The start of the school year always brought with it just as much joy for me as Christmas. Going back to school, being with friends, new pencils and crayons, new shoes and skirts. Everything new. A fresh start. New Years for me always felt like it was in September. I still feel the same way. My college son and daughter are now returned to their schools ready for a new year! Empty rooms upstairs still hint of those years hanging from banners and photos, dry flowers and trophies. A walk into each room this morning brought back to me all the years of joys and tears, triumphs and disappointments of the K-12 years. Their collective experiences now tucked in a place to call on as they traverse the next years of their lives.
Years ago in my own school age years, the Labor Day weekend was a time we spent with family and friends. Neighborhood families trekked to a state park, a large open reservation in upstate New York to share a full day picnic from sunrise to sunset. No one really talked of school the next day as we just enjoyed the last day of summer and freedom. My friend Tommy and I (Thomas in TEAPOTS) and our brothers and sisters would explore the vast open space of this beautiful setting. Nothing to attach to virtually. Just sky and space and sun and laughter.
My childhood friend Lori, Tommy’s sister, and I have been friends since we were very young. A walk in the neighborhood, when our now 50-year-old brothers were in strollers, was the chance meeting of our mothers. Mothers who stayed at home and had very little social connections outside of the home. It was 1966. We lived three houses away on opposite sides of our road. That was the start of a friendship that webbed over years and years blending us really, into families. Our dads became best buds! Our moms became confidantes. And Lori and I became the sisters we never had. We shared summer vacations and picnics and parties. We shared a simpler life in a simpler time. And in September…we all walked together on that first day of school with stiff new clothes and pinchy new shoes. Brand new metal lunch boxes! And we had dozens of first days of school together. Years go along and life’s journey inevitably takes us all in new directions. And while that time and place together can never be replicated, the memories remain forever, for all of us, in many shapes and sizes within our hearts and minds.
I’ve often wished to keep everyone as the kind of friend that they always were. Changes to friendships are hard to decipher. Is it something I said or did? Truly it is simple. Friends enter and exit. We never know how long they’ll stay or sometimes not even why they arrived when they did. Sometimes we may teach something to them. Other times we may learn something from them. Some stay for the whole long stretch of the journey. Others come in, stay for a while and then fade back. And sometimes they return. But truly everyone matters. While our friendships may be confusing and challenging at times, most times they are just a pure blessing at the right time. A confirmation that the Universe knows exactly who we need and when. Perhaps friendships can be best understood as having an ebb and flow like the ocean. Fluid and moving and changing which requires us to arrive at an acceptance that really, nothing stays the same. While we can’t keep everyone with us, we can honor the place and time of each friend; their place on our journeys, by praying for them and sending them good energy that their lives are happy and balanced and peaceful.